Brand marketers love new things. Each recently-launched platform, social network, game or virtual world is a fresh opportunity to attract new customers and engage fans in a low-cost way, without competing (and/or paying) for attention on popular platforms.
So it’s no surprise that the metaverse – defined as any virtual world where users are represented by avatars and are able to explore, experience and interact in an open world – has captured their collective imagination. While certainly far from mainstream, the opportunity is growing rapidly: by 2026, Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least an hour in the metaverse each day.
When brands approach us to guide their metaverse strategy, we rely on a tried-and-true framework for successful metaverse marketing campaigns. With a proper structure, our clients are best positioned to see positive results. Read on for our steps to a successful marketing campaign in the metaverse.
Step 1: Define your objectives…and audience
To ensure the success of your metaverse marketing campaign, it's crucial to prioritize your objectives. This will guide your platform selection, immersive experience development, and budget planning. Start by asking yourself two key questions: what do you hope to achieve, and who is your target audience in the metaverse? The answers will help align your objectives with your marketing strategy and ensure you're reaching the right people with the right message.
Potential objectives for your metaverse marketing campaign include:
Brand awareness: Focus on building buzz through creativity and collabs
Generate leads: Build a clear progression that has organic hooks to capture leads
Drive sales: Dial into target audience and build for them
Learnings: “Test and learn” to see what works and what doesn’t
Each metaverse has its own unique strengths and suitability, whether for launching a global brand marketing campaign targeting Gen Z or engaging a new customer segment in an interactive way. With those differences top-of-mind, the next step is to choose the right metaverse for your goals – and audience.
Step 2: Choose the right metaverse platform
Once you have identified the metaverse marketing campaign's objective and target audience, the next step is to select the appropriate metaverse platform.
The abundance of platforms available can be daunting, making it important to consider your objectives and target audience when making this decision, as each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s also critical to keep up with emerging metaverses, as each presents new opportunities for reaching your target audience.
On the web2 side:
Second Life: Typically older and more affluent users
VR Chat: Younger user base, known for its immersive, creative VR experiences
Roblox and Fortnite: Gaming platforms popular among Gen Z, with social and entertainment experiences
On the web3 side:
The Sandbox: blockchain-based, voxel-style gaming platform that allows brands to construct experiences and players to own their digital assets
Decentraland: blockchain-based, decentralized world where anyone can build their own experiences on land they own.
When deciding on a platform, consider factors such as the user base, the platform's features and limitations, and the cost of investment.
Another key decision factor is around the level of customization and control over your brand presence. Not every public metaverse is ideally suited for brands; in fact, there are instances where it makes more sense to develop a branded metaverse that offers more direct control over the functionality, look and feel. It really comes down to what your brand objectives are, and which metaverse(s) are best suited for those goals.
Step 3: Build your metaverse presence
Once you have chosen the right metaverse for your brand, the next step is to create a virtual space that represents your brand and appeals to your target audience. This can involve creating a virtual storefront, experience, or game that is immersive, engaging, and interactive.
To create a compelling virtual space, it’s important to integrate your brand's visual identity, messaging, and overall vibe. This can be achieved by partnering with experienced builders who can bring your virtual space to life. Many metaverse platforms have thriving creator communities and gaming studios that can help bring your brand’s vision to life.
To engage your audience, it’s important to create a space with interactive elements that encourage users to explore and interact with your brand. Metaverse platforms often provide creator tools that empower brands to build their own native experiences on the platform. For example, The Sandbox’s Vox Edit allows for item creation, while GameMaker allows for experience creation.
Finally, creating a clear pathway for users to interact with your brand is a critical aspect of building your brand presence in the metaverse. This could involve creating a virtual storefront where users can browse and purchase products or creating social experiences that encourage users to engage with your brand in a more organic way. By aligning your objectives with your audience’s needs, you can build a compelling brand presence in the metaverse that drives engagement and delivers real value to your business.
Step 4: Embed social hooks
By creating social experiences and fostering communities, brands can build trust, loyalty, and advocacy – a key aspect of the metaverse. Encourage users to interact with your brand in a more organic way by hosting events, games, or challenges (also called “quests”) that entice users to engage with your brand in a fun and memorable way. For example, a fashion brand might host a virtual fashion show, allowing users to see and interact with the latest clothing.
Another way to leverage social engagement is to create virtual communities where users can connect and engage with each other around shared interests or experiences. This could involve creating a branded social space where users can chat and share content, or creating a social media campaign that encourages users to share user-generated content (UGC) related to your brand.
By leveraging social engagement, brands can build a strong community around their brand and foster a sense of connection and belonging among their target audience. In the next section, we will explore the importance of creating immersive experiences in the metaverse.
Step 5: Create immersive experiences and events
One of the biggest challenges for metaverse marketing is attention – and that’s not just limited to the metaverse, as consumers are constantly bombarded with distractions. With that in mind, it’s important to use tried-and-true marketing strategies for cutting through the noise.
First, create immersive experiences that are memorable, fun and leave a lasting impression. By creating immersive experiences that are both engaging and relevant, brands can build deeper connections with their target audience and differentiate themselves from competitors. For example, a travel company might create a virtual tour of a popular destination, allowing users to explore and interact with the environment in a unique way.
Second, build out events that are scheduled with a beginning and end, so that fans have a reason to dive into your immersive experience. That could mean developing quests that appeal to the human desire to be rewarded, so that fans can earn exclusive wearables for their avatars for finishing the entire game. The goal is to give people a reason to choose your experience over the dozens of other things competing for their attention..
Step 6: Amplify awareness to attract users
“Build it and they will come” only works in metaverses that already have millions of daily users. However, these popular platforms have a tradeoff: it can be difficult to cut through the noise. And, for smaller niche metaverses without many eyeballs, it can also be challenging to entice existing fans to give a new platform a shot.
First, leverage existing marketing channels to entice your fans to check out what you’ve built. Next, experiment with paid advertising, both within the metaverse platform (if advertising is available) and on outside platforms, where you can personalize advertising based on your brand’s existing data on user behavior, interests. For example, a gaming company might create ads that target users who have shown an interest in similar games – and then pull those people into their metaverse game via ads on popular social media channels.
Step 7: Measure and learn
Metaverse marketing is an emerging field that doesn’t yet have mainstream metrics. By measuring the success of your campaign and optimizing your strategy based on the results, you can ensure that your marketing efforts in the metaverse are effective and impactful over the long term. A few key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider:
Engagement: The “time spent” metric is unique to the metaverse. It signals quality time that a consumer engages with your brand (and not elsewhere with a competitor!)
Conversions: To redeem post-quest items, ask for emails or other information that augments your CRM and feeds into existing marketing campaigns.
Brand sentiment: Benchmark post-experience sentiment with a standard sentiment score from a recent survey to track brand lift.
Another way to optimize your campaign is to experiment with different strategies and tactics to see what works best. A rigorous “test and learn” strategy will improve metaverse marketing performance over time by testing different advertising formats, social engagement strategies, or immersive experiences to see what resonates most with your target audience.
It’s also important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the metaverse and adjust your strategy accordingly. As the metaverse continues to evolve, new opportunities and challenges will emerge, and it will be important to adapt your strategy to stay ahead of the curve.
Bringing it all together
The metaverse is a new frontier for brand marketing, offering unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers in immersive and engaging ways. And, like all emerging channels, change is the only constant: things will evolve, platforms will emerge (and fizzle). The road is winding and the time horizon is long.
By following the seven steps outlined above, brands can develop effective marketing campaigns that build brand awareness, drive sales, and create lasting connections with their target audience. Frequent experimentation, executed with expert planning and sensible metrics, is the best path forward to account for the unique characteristics of this new environment. With the right approach, brands can unlock the full potential of the metaverse and establish themselves as leaders in this emerging space.